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THE BANGER SISTERS
U.S. Release Date: September 20, 2002
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Producer: Mark Johnson
Composer: Trevor Rabin
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Goldie Hawn, Geoffrey Rush, Erika Christensen
Running Time: 1 hour and 34 minutes
MPAA Rating: R (language, sexual content and some drug use)

A Lot Of Heart, A Little Script
by Billy Reeves

I have always seen chick flicks as "feel good" movies, and The Banger Sisters is no exception. While a mediocre spectacle at best, Bob Dolman's film is laugh-out-loud funny at times and shares some important life lessons with its audience.

Suzette (Goldie Hawn) is an L.A. bartender who lives in the past and among other things has never managed to grow up. She's loud, crass and tattooed, and her dismissive attitude towards authority gets her fired from her long-term job. While wallowing in her misery, Suzette starts going through some old photos and comes across a picture of her childhood friend, Lavinia Kingsley (Susan Sarandon). Once inseparable, the two were famous groupies, so famous that rock stars had aptly named them "The Banger Sisters." Lavinia grew up, married a wealthy lawyer (Robin Thomas) and had two daughters, Hannah (Erika Christensen) and Ginger (Eva Amurri) in upper-class suburbia. Above all else, Lavinia is determined to hide her wild past in the best interest of her husband's political aspirations.

Suzette has a brilliant plan to drive to Phoenix and hit her old pal up for money and is convinced that the two will pick up where they left off. Along the way she picks up Harry (Geoffrey Rush), an obsessive-compulsive screenwriter whose sole purpose in going to Phoenix is to shoot his father. Suzette works her unrefined charm on him, and it isn't long before she's sleeping in his hotel room and helping him sort out his life.

At first Lavinia (or "Vinnie" as Suzette calls her) is not at all pleased to see Suzette, and tries to explain to her that she has changed her life for the better. It doesn't take long though before Suzette is staying for dinner and "Vinnie" begins to let her hair down (or cut it off in this case).

Hawn works like a trashy Mary Poppins, turning the Kingsley family upside-down to expose and repair their hidden issues. Her screen presence is absolutely infectious. You can't help but love her, whether you are in the audience or on the screen, and it's clear she's lost none of her comedic prowess over the years. Sarandon plays prim and proper like only she can, and she and Hawn have such terrific chemistry that it's a wonder they haven't played in a buddy comedy like this before.

For a silly chick flick, there are some great lessons to be learned watching The Banger Sisters. The most general one is simple: be yourself. You can also come across some smaller ones here and there, such as don't take what you have for granted, and no matter how hard you try, you can't escape your past. Finding oneself is also a visible theme, particularly with Hawn's Suzette.

However, the pacing is uneven and the subplot is unnecessary. While Rush's Harry is a riot in some places, it appears the whole point of his character is to take up time and provide the audience with a tidy ending. Lavinia's regression to her former self is so quick it makes Sarandon look like she is suffering from multiple personality disorder. The script is underdeveloped in that sense because Dolman lengthens the story in all the wrong places. Sarandon and Hawn are so hilarious together you wonder why they aren't given more time on screen.

For those of you who enjoy a good chick flick, you could do far worse than The Banger Sisters. The jokes are first rate, and the characters are well drawn. If you can manage to overlook the glaring pacing problems and focus on the leading ladies, you'll undoubtedly enjoy yourself.


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